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IMA-NA Comments on ESA Mitigation Policies

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On January 5th, IMA-NA and NISA submitted comments to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS or Service) in response to the request for comments on the Service's current Endangered Species Act (ESA) mitigation policies. The request comes as each Department and Agency is reviewing regulations to carry out President Trump's Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The Service was specifically looking at the change in the mitigation policy under President Obama to recommend or require "net conservation gain" as the standard for mitigation plans. IMA-NA and NISA submitted comments urging the Service to remove the "net conservation gain" standard as it creates the opportunity for the costs of mitigation plans to grow exponentially without a clear outline of the limitations. Along with other industry groups we also feel the standard creates greater confusion and a lack of consistency for the implementation of mitigation programs across the country. Additionally, the Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC) submitted comments urging the removal of "net conservation gain" from the FWS standards because it is inconsistent with the "no net loss" standard set by the Clean Water Act section 404 permitting rules. WAC argues "net conservation gain" could greatly disrupt and delay the permitting process due to the inconsistency.

To read the IMA-NA and NISA comments click here

To read the Waters Advocacy Coalition comments click here

Tags:  comments  CWA  ESA  FWS  mitigation policy  Regulations  WAC 

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EPA Update - Sue & Settle and WOTUS

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Last week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a significant change in policy at the Agency. Secretary Pruitt's Directive Promoting Transparency and Public Participation in Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements, is aimed at ending the practices of setting regulatory deadlines and/or committing to undertake discretionary actions that are not required by statute through settlements with outside 3rd parties. Throughout the last Administration, environmental groups found great regulatory success by suing the EPA over purported failures to issue regulations by the dates required in the underlying statute or in a manner consistent with law. This practice became known as "Sue & Settle" and resulted in substantial regulatory action being undertaken due to settlement agreements rather than necessity. Under the new Directive the EPA must comply with the following guidelines when negotiating settlements:

The Agency Must:

  • Publish any notices of intent to sue the Agency within 15 days of receiving the notice;
  • Publish any complaints or petitions for review in regard to an environmental law, regulation, or rule in which the Agency is a defendant or respondent in federal court within 15 days of receipt;
  • Reach out to and including any states and/or regulated entities affected by potential settlements or consent decrees;
  • Publish a list of consent decrees and settlement agreements that govern Agency actions within 30 days, along with any attorney fees paid, and update it within 15 days of any new consent decree or settlement agreement;
  • Forbidden from entering into any consent decrees that exceed the authority of the courts;
  • Exclude attorney’s fees and litigation costs when settling with those suing the Agency;
  • Provide sufficient time to issue or modify proposed and final rules, take and consider public comment; and
  • Publish any proposed or modified consent decrees and settlements for 30-day public comment, and providing a public hearing on a proposed consent decree or settlement when requested.

To read the full Directive click here.

 

Waters of the US

The Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC), of which IMA-NA and NISA are members, submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers related to the ongoing work of theDepartment of Defense Regulatory Reform Task Force. In accordance with Executive Order No. 13,777, each Department is currently reviewing existing regulations to determine which are unnecessary or overly burdensome, as currently written. WAC took the opportunity to submit comments to the record related to the 2015 redefinition of Waters of the United States. The comments are another avenue for the Coalition to work on correcting the overly expansive definition of Waters of the United States that was finalized in 2015. 

To read the comments click here

 

Finally, the EPA is continuing to conduct the sector specific listening sessions to solicit feedback on what a new redefinition of Waters of the United States should look like, ways the 2015 rule is flawed, and what a reasonable interpretation of jurisdictional scope should be. This Monday, EPA hosted the only in person listening session for small business entities. IMA-NA attended the meeting and is pleased to report back that the vast majority of oral comments offered were critical of the 2015 rule and in favor of a substantial redrafting.

The mining sector listening session is being held next Tuesday, October 31st, at 1pm EST. If you have not done so already please register to attend and contact Ariel Hill-Davis to coordinate comments.

 IMA-NA will also be offering written comments to the docket, which are due by November 28th. 

Tags:  comments  environment  EPA  Regulations  settle  sue  wotus 

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IMA-NA Comments on CERCLA §108(b)

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, July 12, 2017

IMA-NA filed comments yesterday on EPA's CERCLA §108(b) notice of proposed rulemaking.  This rulemaking would establish financial assurance requirements for Superfund liability at individual hardrock mining facilities.   These financial assurances have the potential to be extremely costly . . . as in millions of dollars per industrial minerals facility.  The IMA-NA comments are specific to the industrial minerals sector.  IMA-NA also have been participating in a coalition of other hardrock mining trade associations, as well as trade associations representing industry sectors that EPA has indicated it likely next would subject to CERCLA §108(b) financial responsibility requirements (e.g., chemicals manufacturing, petroleum and coal products manufacturing, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution).  The coalition comments also are attached for your information.

 

Both the IMA-NA and coalition comments are attached.


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 Attached Files:

Tags:  CERCLA  Comments  EPA  Regulations 

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ATSDR Draft Toxicological Profile - Silica

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) published the long-anticipated draft toxicological profile for "silica."  A copy of the Federal Register notice in which the draft publication is referenced is attached.  ATSDR is seeking public comments and additional information or reports on studies about the health effects of four substances, including silica.  The draft toxicological profile makes clear that amorphous and crystalline silica both are addressed.  Comments on the draft must be submitted by September 11, 2017.

 

The draft toxicological profile for silica can be accessed on the following portal page, which includes a description of the process through which the draft currently is progressing:  https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp.asp?id=1483&tid=290.  The complete 370-page document can be accessed and downloaded through the following link:  https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp211.pdf.  The document is 11.4 MB in size.  Please go to the link to download it.


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Tags:  ATSDR  comments  silica  toxicology profile 

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IMA-NA Comments on OSHA Lock-Out/Tag-Out

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IMA-NA recently filed comments on an OSHA proposed rule, Standards Improvement Project - Phase IV, through which OSHA ostensibly intended to "remove or revise outdated, duplicative, unnecessary and inconsistent requirements in OSHA's safety and health standards." However, some of the proposals would have made substantive changes in the standards. For instance, the proposal would remove the well-established and relied upon term "unexpected" from the lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) standard. When the LOTO standard was first adopted by OSHA in 1989 it was specifically limited to only cover "the servicing and maintenance operations in which the unexpected energization or startup of the machines or equipment, or the release of stored energy could cause injury to employees." Contrary to the intent of the Standards Improvement Project, the proposal would significantly change the meaning and scope of the LOTO standard. The comments do not suggest that OSHA could not properly delete the term "unexpected" from the LOTO standard; they maintain that to do so OSHA should engage in a formal rulemaking process and not the Standards Improvement Project.

To read IMA-NA's comments please open the attachment below.

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Tags:  comments  LOTO  osha  Regulations  rulemaking 

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NISA Sends Letter on Final Silica Rule to House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Last week the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a heading on the OSHA final rule on suitable occupational exposure levels to respirable crystalline silica. As expected, the hearing broke down along partisan lines with the majority Republicans questioning whether the final rule reflected functional public policy and the minority Democrats saying it was long overdue. Both the Members and the witnesses spoke to the need to protect workers from a potential, but preventable, occupational hazard; they just differed in approach.

As follow up to the hearing, NISA sent a letter to Chairman Tim Walberg and Ranking Member Frederica Wilson to be entered into the public record of the hearing.  The letter highlights NISA and IMA-NA's steadfast position that OSHA's rule should keep the current 100 micrograms PEL but create an action level of 50 micrograms which triggers further exposure monitoring and medical surveillance.  The "NISA Solution" has been our message from the start of the rulemaking process. Our members have had tremendous success from implementing the Silicosis Prevention Program (SPP) and we wanted to ensure NISA's voice was on the Congressional record as well as the rulemaking record.

Please see the attached letter and op-ed NISA submitted to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

Click here to watch the hearing.  

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 Attached Files:

Tags:  comments  hearing  House  NISA  nisa solution  silica  Subcommittee on Workforce Protections 

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IMA-NA Joins Group Supporting Appropriations for USGS

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, April 25, 2016
Last week, as a member of the Minerals Sciences and Information Coalition (MSIC) IMA-NA signed onto a letter of support for President Obama's budgetary request for the US Geological Survey (USGS). The Coalition submitted the letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations on April 20th. In the letter, the signatory organizations applauded President Obama's request for $49 million for the USGS Mineral Resources Program (MRP) and requested an additional $5 million be added specifically for the development of minerals forecasting programs. As a member of MSIC, IMA-NA works to promote the important work of USGS in cataloging, researching, and mapping our geological resources.  Additionally, due to the criticality of stable mineral supply chains MSIC continues to push for an expansion of the current programs at USGS to include forecasting abilities. IMA-NA is pleased to work with our fellow Coalition members as a voice for minerals science in DC.

Tags:  appropriations  budget  coalition  comments  legislation  minerals science  msic 

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Coalition for Workplace Safety Submits Comments on OSHA's Record keeping Rule

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, October 29, 2015

IMA-NA along with over 60 other associations and organizations comprise the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS), a coalition established to support improving workplace safety through cooperation, assistance, transparency, clarity, and accountability.  On October 27th, CWS submitted comments to the record on OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), theClarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness. The comments focused on OSHA's attempt to circumvent both Congressional and Judiciary authority through the rulemaking process on this issue.  OSHA's proposed rule to alter record keeping standards to impose a continuing obligation categorically ignores the six month statute of limitations on record keeping citations established by Congress in the OSH Act. Not only does this rule attempt to bypass the intent of the OSH Act as enumerated by Congress but the statute of limitations has been reinforced through the U.S. Court of Appeals in multiple decisions. The comments also highlight the punitive nature of OSHA's expansion of grounds for citation by changing the nature of injury and illness record keeping to a continuing obligation.  CWS argues that this NPRM is out of line with precedent, acts as jurisdictional overreach and demonstrates the Agency's misguided belief that more citations create safer workplaces. 

To read the comments please open the attachment. 

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  coalition  comments  CWS  health  legislation  OSHA  record keeping  regulations  safety 

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Minerals Science Information Coalition Supports 2015 USGS Initiatives

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

On February 23rd, IMA-NA along with other members of the Minerals Science Information Coalition (MSIC) sent a letter of support to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in response to the 2015 initiatives of the National Minerals Information Center (NMIC). As the only NMIC and the Minerals Resources Program (MRP) are the primary providers of minerals science and information, IMA-NA and the Coalition are very interested in seeing greater investment in forward thinking initiatives. In January Steve M. Fortier, Director of NMIC, sent a letter outlining the various activities and initiatives for 2015, some of which seem to indicate a move towards forward thinking research.  Ideally, MSIC would like to see the minerals science programs restored to their previous funding levels and perhaps expanded to create new forecasting abilities. Minerals are the building blocks for our lifestyles and as such we need accurate information on existing stores in order to responsibly develop the resources.  MSIC is supportive of the direction Director Fortier is currently steering NMIC.  To read Director Fortier's letter and the Coalition's response click on the attachments.

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 Attached Files:

Tags:  coalition  comments  department of interior  minerals science  msic  usgs 

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IMA-NA Comments on New U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last week IMA-NA, in conjunction with several other associations, submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) on two rulemakings and one policy proposal regarding the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The comments are a continuation of IMA-NA’s engagement with the Services related to the increased ESA activity.  The newest rulemakings address the designation of critical habitat for threatened or endangered species and the definition of destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.  Additionally, the proposed policy covers implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA, which addresses how the Services will determine exclusions of areas from designation as critical habitat.

These additional proposed rulemakings and policy exemplify a vast and unnecessary expansion of federal jurisdiction of land use under ESA. The expansion of Service authority to designate critical habitats and land usage also reinforces regulatory uncertainty for the business community. The potential impact on land usage in the Western states should the Services finalize the proposals is largely negative. IMA-NA and our coalition of ally associations will continue to be engaged with the Services as these proposals go through the process.

In related news, the Services announced in August a re-opening of the comment period on the decision to designate the Greater Sage Grouse as a threatened species under ESA or not.  The Services are now anticipating making a final determination by April 28, 2015. To view the Federal Register announcement click here.

To read the comments please click here.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  comments  ESA  Greater Sage Grouse  Regulations 

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